Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2011

My goodness, March is nearly over! I don't remember much of it ... I'm wondering what I did for a whole month! Haha. Well, hopefully, this monthly feature will highlight what I have done in the past month and I can see what all I have read and reviewed here for you guys! So, without further ado:

Number of books read: 11
Reviews done: 11 (all my reviews can be found under my review tab up top. And since this is my first whole month of blogging, there aren't too many entries in there ... yet)
My Favorite Book from this month: Unbearable Lightness (seriously, if you have not read this book, you need to run out and get it. I cannot recommend this book enough!)
Least Favorite Book: The Swan Thieves (not that it was a bad book, just not my cup of tea)

As far as my personal life (you know, things I do when I'm not reading), it hasn't been a very exciting month. I had my surgery at the beginning of the month, so I was out of work for two weeks and got to bum around the house. So that was a nice change. It did limit what I could do exactly, so no working out, no training for the 5K, no going out with friends (we went out a few times, but just to see a movie and catch up at Panera). But I am now back at work, back to working out, and training for my 5Ks again (and my quads are on fire!!!) All in all, it wasn't a bad month, but definitely looking forward to summer!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous month and here's looking to April!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3-30-11)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases and books that you just can't wait to read! This week, I'm indulging in my girly side:

Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell
Expected release date: April 26, 2011

Synopsis (from Summer is a magical time in New York City and Carrie is in love with all of it—the crazy characters in her neighborhood, the vintage-clothing boutiques, the wild parties, and the glamorous man who has swept her off her feet. Best of all, she's finally in a real writing class, taking her first steps toward fulfilling her dream.
This sequel to The Carrie Diaries brings surprising revelations as Carrie learns to navigate her way around the Big Apple, going from being a country "sparrow"—as Samantha Jones dubs her— to the person she always wanted to be. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile her past with her future, Carrie realizes that making it in New York is much more complicated than she ever imagined.
With her signature wit and sparkling humor, Candace Bushnell reveals the irresistible story of how Carrie met Samantha and Miranda, and what turned a small-town girl into one of New York City's most unforgettable icons, Carrie Bradshaw.

I love Sex and the City ... I am pretty sure that I have watched each episode at least ten times, and they never get old. I cannot wait to read this book about Carrie just getting her start in NYC ... and the cover is just too cute! Can't wait!
So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife
Author: Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: February 22, 2011
Hardcover: 314 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

My Thoughts:  I was originally interested in this book for one reason: Paris. I love anything related to France, and hearing this title, I was immediately hooked. I didn't know much about Ernest Hemmingway and his many wives, but the title alone intrigued me, and the more reviews I read about this book, the more I wanted to read it. And while this book had little to do with Paris, I still really enjoyed it.

The characters are rich and complex, with Hadley at the center of it all. She vows that she will do whatever it takes to help Ernest accomplish his dream of becoming a published writer. She supports his idea of moving to Paris to meet the right kind of people. She meets with all of his artist friends, many of whom she doesn't understand. She does whatever it takes to help him reach his dreams, helping him to achieve happiness. She believes that once he is truly happy, he will realize that he couldn't have done it without her, and that is what will make her happy. Hadley is a traditionalist who is thrust into a modern world, where people have open relationships and women date one another (in the 1920s, homosexuality wasn't something that was shared openly).

Paula McLain writes beautifully and you can tell that she is a poet. Her language paints a beautiful picture where she sweeps the reader into the settings and places. As she is describing Pamplona, I felt like I was there in the crowded street among the dancers and revelers. It really does make you feel as if you are there with Hadley, experiencing everything as she is. I think it's these beautiful descriptions that create the connection between the reader and the story. If it weren't for the beautful language, I don't think that I would have liked this book as much.

While the book is written from Hadley's point of view, there are a few chapters that are told from the perspective of Ernest. In these chapters, you were able to see Ernest's destructive behavior and how he was handling it. He wants to be a good person and doesn't want to hurt Hadley, but he engages in situations where the outcome can only end badly. But no matter what he did, I never hated Ernest. I never felt like he was a bad person. McLain does not paint him in a negative light and allows you, the reader, to decide whether he is a good or bad person.

I would recommend this book to anyone. If you enjoy contemporary fiction, historical fiction, memoirs ... then this book would appeal to you. I knew very little about Hemmingway before reading this book, and even though it is a work of fiction, I still felt like I learned more about him and the time in which he lived. I will admit, I had to read Hemmingway in high school and did not like him, but this book makes me want to go back and revisit some of his books. Maybe, knowing a little bit more about the man, I will appreciate them in a new way!

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? (3-28-11)

It's Monday! What are you reading? This is a weekly meme hosted my Shelia at Book Journey where you go over what you read last week, what you are currently reading, and what you plan to read this upcoming week. It's a great meme, and it helps me to see my progress and where I am on the midst of all my TBR books! So, without further ado, here is my weekly progress.

What I Read (links will take you to my reviews):
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (if you like art and art history, that you will definitely want to check this book out)
Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace (a debut novel by a promising author)

What I am currently reading:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

What I place to read:
The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink
Emma by Jane Austen

So, what's on your reading list this upcoming week? Whatever it is, I hope that everyone has a great week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace

Eighteen Acres
Author: Nicolle Wallace
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: October 19, 2010
Hardcover, 362 pages
My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from Melanie Kingston, White House chief of staff to the nation’s forty-fifth president, Charlotte Kramer, has spent 15 years in the 18 acres that constitute the White House complex. As her boss and dear friend President Kramer considers running for a second term, the two are confronted with political and personal turmoil that threatens their collective and individual careers. Melanie has no social life to speak of as she navigates the politics within and outside the White House. Charlotte’s marriage is falling apart, her husband is having an affair, and her closest adviser and friend makes a judgment that threatens national security and tests the bonds of friendship. Dale Smith, a reporter in love with the president’s husband, fights her conscience and professional ethics as she struggles to climb to the top of television news reporting. Wallace draws on 13 years experience as a political commentator and news reporter, many of those years spent working in the White House, to deliver a portrait of three women caught in the whirlwind of Washington politics.

My Thoughts: I didn't know if I was going to like this book, but I'm really glad that I decided to buy it. This is Nicolle Wallace's first novel and she decided to write about what she knows, White House politics. The novel follows three women, all in different positions but all working in the White House. Each chapter is told from one of the women's points of view, so you were able to see how the president, the chief of staff, and a White House correspondent all live and interact with one another.

I think that Wallace did a great job in portraying how each woman handles the stresses of their jobs. Each woman is relatable and grows throughout the novel. It was a bit of fluff at times, crossing into chick-lit territory, but also kept me guessing at what would happen next. I will say that the ending wasn't very realistic, but it didn't ruin the whole book from me. Another thing that annoyed me was the editing. There were several typos and grammatical errors, which I hope will diminish over time as she builds a rapport with her editor. Neither of these things turned me off from reading the book, but I hope that with her next novel, Wallace will continue to grow as a writer.

While not a great piece of literature, it was an engaging and a quick read. I will definitely be looking forward to more novels from Nicolle Wallace in the future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: March 25-28

Time for the Book Blogger Hop! This weekly meme, hosted by Crazy for Books, is a great way to meet fellow bloggers and learn a little more about one another. This week's question comes from Mina at Mina Burrows:

"If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

Well, I will give you two answers. First, the most popular answer out there, Harry Potter. Who wouldn't want to go to Hogwarts and learn all about magic? I would just love to go to Hogsmeade and get a butter beer. Oh, if only Hogwarts was a real place!

My second answer is Pride and Prejudice. I would want to be one of the Bennet sisters. I would love being able to go back in time and experience a different way of life. That, and who wouldn't like to look at Mr. Darcy?!?

So, which book/series would you put yourself in? Happy hopping everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Published: January 2010
Paperback, 561 pages
My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love, to create a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.Andrew Marlow, a psychiatrist, has a perfectly ordered life--solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when the renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes Marlow's patient.

When Oliver refuses to talk or cooperate, Marlow finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this silent genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

My Thoughts: This is a chunkster of a book, and about half way through, I was beginning to wonder, "Is there an end in sight?" This book was so long, with so much detail, much of which I think could have been edited down. The book really started to drag and go into a lot of detail, with most of it not helping to move the story along.

Kostova uses very descriptive language, as if she is a painter, along with Robert Oliver. While at times it was beautiful, this contributed to making the book move at a slow pace. I won't put any spoilers in here, but it was a very interesting story. I would classify it as an art mystery, which is very intriguing to me, but with all of the flowery sentences, it just became a drag and something that had me counting down to the last pages (and I hate doing that).

One of the few things that I enjoyed about this book were the characters. Dr. Andrew Marlow served as the narrator, with the loves of Robert's life coming and letting Marlow know about their relationship with Robert Oliver. Kostova fully develops each character, allowing them to grow. I also enjoyed the flashbacks to 1879, where we learn about Beatrice de Clerval and her life. I thought the flashbacks really helped to break up the story and present that storyline in an interesting manner.

If you enjoy incredibly descriptive novels and have an interest in art, then you would probably enjoy this book. For me, though, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3-23-11)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. You post about an upcoming book release that you are looking forward to, and then link up! It's a great way to connect with fellow bloggers and possibly add some more books to your reading pile. This week, I am waiting on:

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster (expected release date: May 3, 2011)

Synopsis (from Told in the uproariously entertaining voice readers have come to expect from Jen Lancaster, If You Were Herefollows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (3-22-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A topic is posted each Tuesday, and you create your own top ten list! It's pretty fun (and silly) ... so here we go!

This week's topic is: Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

1) Breaking the spine of the book. I don't know why, but it drives me crazy when people do this. It's like you are hurting the book! (Yes I'm crazy for thinking that books can feel things.) 
2) Vampires/werewolves - I will admit, I read Twilight, and another crazy confession, I enjoyed it! The reason that I liked the series was not because of the fantasy, but because of the relationships between the characters. I'm just over seeing so many books about vampires and whatnot. Time to move on!
3) Long chapters - it becomes too tedious to read a book when each chapter is 20+ pages. I like being able to have stopping points when I'm reading ... I just hate stopping in the middle of a chapter.
4) Wordy sentences - in some books, it's okay, but in others, I feel like the author is trying too hard.
5) A "wrapped up" ending - when a book is wrapped up with every character being happy/getting what they want, it's a bit too much. 
6) Not using quotation marks - it just makes it too difficult to read when I'm trying to figure out what is narration and what is dialogue.
7) Messy book users - have you ever gone into a bookstore and found that someone has gathered 30 books and left them in a pile somewhere? It's just rude. Either return it to the place you got it from, or get a book seller. It's what they are there for!
8) Reading only one genre/type of book - on so many blogs, I see people who only read YA or dystopian or mystery. You are missing out on so much by limiting yourself to one genre! Branch out and you may discover something wonderful!
9) Busy blogs - those blogs with lots of buttons and challenge postings and links and blinking images ... it hurts my eyes! 
10) Smelly books - have you ever checked a book out from the library and it smells like cigarettes/food/smelly feet? It really turns me off, and leaves me wondering, "What do you do to your books?!?"

What are your pet peeves?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

Unbearable Lightness
Author: Portia de Rossi
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: November 1, 2010
Hardcover, 307 pages

Synopsis: Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.
In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.
Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development,Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.
From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.
In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies,Unbearable Lightnessis a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit. (From
My Thoughts: Wow. Wow wow wow.
This is Portia de Rossi’s memoir on her battle with anorexia and bulemia. Since she was a teenager, she struggled with her weight, ballooning up and down. The disease took control of her once she landed her first major beauty campaign with L’Oreal. At her first fitting, she was unable to fit into any of the outfits that the stylist had pulled for her, and the stylist told the company executives, “Nobody told me she was a size eight” (118). It is at that moment that Portia realizes what she must do to be that perfect person that the L’Oreal wanted her to be: she had to lose weight and be a size 4. Her journey continues after her first photo shoot with the company, lasting a year and taking her to her lowest weight, 82 pounds.

De Rossi’s writing is so gripping that you can hardly imagine that this really was how someone lived. There are scenes that are so vivid and haunting, you have to put the book down for awhile to comprehend what she is doing. One of the most haunting passages in the book comes early on, when she explains her bingeing and purging after dining with her brother at a Mexican restaurant and then buying food at a convenience store on the way home:
“I started by eating a large bag of Cheetos. The bright orange color would serve as a marker during the purge. It would be a map, almost, telling me how far I’d come and how much further I needed to go. When I saw orange vomit cascading from my mouth and flowing in chunks between the two rigid fingers jammed against my gag reflex, I’d know I’d passed 7-Eleven and then I’d make my way back to the restaurant and back through each course beginning with corn chips, the enchiladas, and ending with the nachos.” (49)
She takes you through her illness, describing how she lived her life at that time and what she did to herself in order to achieve these extreme results. Her journey is not just one of weight acceptance, but also of how she must come to terms with who she really is. She is a gay woman but she hid it from the world, allowing her secret to eat her alive. She was so nervous that someone would discover her secret that she lived in a constant state of paranoia, avoiding certain areas of Los Angeles because they were known as the gay parts of town. It’s hard to imagine someone living their life this way, and even harder to think that this is a memoir, that this isn’t fiction. She lived this way for years.

This book is beautifully written and contains a strong message. I could gush about it for hours (don’t worry, I won’t), about how moving it was to go inside the mind of someone living with an eating disorder, to see how she views herself and the world around her. It also shows how our society values a person’s appearance. I was so disgusted with our society at certain passages, because I realized how impossible standards are forced onto women. At one point in the book, de Rossi is flying home to Australia. It’s a 14 hour flight, and the only thing she consumes the entire flight is one black coffee. The flight attendant congragulates her on her will-power! How awful is that?!?

I would recommend this book to every woman. Even if you love who you are and love your body, you need to read this book. It’s a harrowing journey into the world of a person suffering from an eating disorder and trying to be who she thinks society would want her to be. After finishing the book, I realized that I need to live in the moment, not worry about how I am living and just be happy. And while this seems like common sense and something that I have heard lots of times before, reading this book made me realize that I should accept the person that I am and accept those around me as well. Honestly, I think everyone should read this book. This will be staying on by bookshelf forever.

My Rating: 5 stars!

It's Monday! What are you reading? (3-21-11)

It's Monday? What are you reading? This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey where you say what you read this past week, what you are reading now, and what you plan to read this upcoming week. It's a great way to see your progress and connect with other bloggers!

This past week I headed back to work after two glorious weeks off, so my reading suffered a little bit. I was able to complete what I wanted to, so here's hoping I can continue that trend this week!

Books completed this week (links to my reviews):
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi (I have the review nearly done on this one, so look forward to my review sometime this week!)

Currently Reading:
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

What I Plan to Read:
Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

So, what are you reading this week?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (3-20-11)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by The Story Siren. Each week, you post about what you purchased/won/borrowed/received. It's a great way to connect with other bloggers and see what everyone else is reading. This week, I purchased three new books. I had a bunch of Borders coupons and Borders Bucks, so I was able to get three new, hardcover books for only $20! Not too bad, huh?

Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (published March 1, 2011)

Synopsis: Hamilton, one of America's most recognized chefs, serves up a sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir about the search for meaning and purpose and the people and places that shaped her journey. (From

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (published February 22, 2011)

Synopsis: A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. (From

(I've been wanting to read this book for almost a month now ... so excited that it finally came!)

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (published January 20, 2011)

Synopsis: The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much.But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from-one another, their small hometown, and themselves-might offer more than they ever expected. (From

So, what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: March 18-21

Time for the Book Blogger Hop! This weekly meme, hosted by Crazy for Books, is a great way to meet fellow bloggers and learn a little more about one another. This week's question comes from Somer at A Bird's Eye Review:

"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

I am a one-book-at-a-time gal. I just feel that if I am reading more than one book at a time, that I am cheating on my books ... with one another! I know, it sounds crazy, but I like to give myself fully to a book and really know those characters. If I read more than one at a time, I don't think I would be able to understand the characters fully. Those of you who can read more than one book ... kudos to you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

These Things Hidden
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Published: 2011
Publisher: Mira
Paperback, 337 pages

Summary: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.
But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.
Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden. (From

My Thoughts: I decided to read this book after reading The Weight of Silence last year. That book had me up all night as I tried to finish it, because I knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep until I had figured out what happened to all of the characters. I was expecting the same for this book, but it fell just short of what I was looking for. That's not to say that it wasn't a good book or one that I didn't enjoy reading, but it wasn't what I was expecting from Heather Gudenkauf.
One of the things that I did like about this book was that each chapter is told from a different character's point of view. Your narrators for the story are Allison (the girl who went to prison), Brynn (her sister), Charm (a nursing student who takes care of everyone but herself), and Claire (mother to a five year old boy). Their stories are all intertwined and with each chapter told from a different point of view, you learn more about each woman than you would if it was narrated by one person. 
Gudenkauf writes poetically, drawing you into the story and creating a connection between you and the characters. Even though Allison went to prison for a horrible crime, when you are reading her chapters, you are on her side. Gudenkauf's writing is that good. The only real criticism I have is that I would have liked a little more differentiation in the voices of the narrators. I felt like they all sounded the same, even though all of their stories were different. 
My favorite character from the book was Charm. She was such a strong character, always trying to take care of everyone else and do the right thing for everyone. I felt like she had the strongest chapters and that I could really connect with her. Overall, it was a quick read, one that moves at a fast clip. And this book could fall into a variety of categories, so it could appeal to many audiences: it's contemporary fiction, a mystery, a thriller, and chick-lit. So it has something for everyone.

My Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3-16-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a great way to connect with other bloggers and learn what books you can look forward to!

A Lesson In Secrets
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 22, 2011

From "In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’ career goes in an exciting new direction when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities “not in the interests of His Majesty’s Government.” 

When the college’s controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote’s death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance. 

To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain’s conduct during the war, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain. 

A pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs, A Lesson In Secrets marks the beginning of her intelligence work for the Crown. As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, Maisie will confront new challenges and new enemies—and will engage new readers and loyal fans of this bestselling mystery series."

I have been looking for a good mystery book for quite sometime now, and this is something that really appeals to me (I love anything set during WWII). That, and that art-deco cover is too cool! Expected release date is March 22 (right around the corner!)

So, what are you looking forward to this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (3-15-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, a new topic is posted, and then you contribute your top 10 list! It's pretty simple! This week, the topic is: the top ten characters you would want as family members.

1) The Weasleys (Harry Potter series) - honestly, who wouldn't want to be a part of this family? They are loving supportive, fun, and always up for a challenge.

2) The Bennetts (Pride and Prejudice) - I would love to have Elizabeth as one of my sisters, and Mr. Bennett is such a loving dad.

3) Claudia Kincaid (From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) - who wouldn't want a sister that would devise a plan to run away and spend the night in the Met in NYC? Honestly, I wish my sisters had created such a great plan.

4) Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) - a true icon in literature ... do I need to say anymore?

5) Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre) - such a headstrong woman who knows what she wants. I would love to have her as a sister.

6) Lisbeth Salander (Millenium trilogy) - who would ever mess with you is Lisbeth was your sister? That, and she could dig up all the dirty stuff on anyone who doesn't like you. Definitely would want her in my family!

7) Francie Nolan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) - from my favorite book ever, I would love to be Francie's neighbor, growing up together in the ever-growing NYC.

8) Gryffindor (Harry Potter series) - I know, this isn't really a family ... but if I went to Hogwarts, this is the house that I would want to be in. Heck, I would just be happy if I could go to Hogwarts, period!

9) Marie Grosholtz (Madame Tussaud) - I just finished this book, but she is such a wonderful character, so strong and with great business sense. And I would enjoy seeing France as it was going through such a defining time in history.

10) Noah Calhoun (The Notebook) - he would make such a great husband! Sigh ...

So, who makes up your top 10 list?

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She's Come Undone
Author: Wally Lamb
Published: 1992
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Paperback, 465 pages

Summary: Meet Dolores Price. She's 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Beached like a whale in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallmomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally rolls into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she's determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before really going belly up. (From


My Thoughts: This book follows Dolores Price from the ages of 13 to 40, from the inauguration of JFK up to President Reagan’s administration. In this time frame, Wally Lamb takes the reader into Dolores’ world, allowing you to experience Dolores from childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, into middle age. It’s an engrossing read, one that you won’t be able to put down at times, and at other times, making you angry with the characters in the book as if they were your actually family.
Dolores is a great character, and she truly grows and changes throughout the novel. At the beginning of the story, I really didn’t like Dolores. I thought she was rude, spoiled, and over indulged. About halfway through the book, something changed. I don’t know what it was, but suddenly, I was rooting for Dolores, wanting her to work through all of her issues and have the life that she deserved, the one that seemed to slip through the fingers of her mother and grandmother. By the end of the book, you feel as though Dolores is a part of you, because you are sitting there fighting internally with yourself over her decisions. You will be sitting there, weighing both sides of her arguments. She is such an engrossing character that, once I had finished the book, I was sad to part ways with her.
There are a lot if issues happening in the book: repression, obesity, rape, disillusionment, abandonment, what happiness is … sometimes, it can be a lot to handle, and you wonder how Dolores can handle all of it. Lamb does a tremendous job of not giving you, the reader, too much to handle at once. While you realize all of the issues that Dolores is dealing with, it never becomes too much. It is all a part of this character, one who is growing an changing with each turn of the page.
For me, the most important part of the book was when Dolores first gets to see the whale. As she climbs the dune to look out at the beach, I was holding my breath. I knew the reaction that she would have and I was so nervous for her! I didn’t know if she would be able to handle it, and I didn’t want her to crumble from the emotional weight of the experience. It was at that moment that I finally understood Dolores and was on her side, rooting for her. It was at that moment that I was on her side, pulling for her, wanting her to get her life on track. I would smile when she took a step forward and shake my head when she regressed, but forgive her for her mistake and hope that she would get back on the right track. I don’t think I have ever had such a relationship with a character, and it’s a huge testament to Lamb’s writing that he is able to truly make this woman come to life.

My Rating: 4.5 stars